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Discussion Starter #1
I have bled the brakes on all 4 wheels, but the brakes are still mushy. I cannot recall if the brake fluid has ever been drained and refilled. Is this important to do? Also, how do I do it?

Thanks!
 

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First, why did you bleed the brakes? Because you repaired/replaced parts? Because it started feeling spongy(mushy)? With abs brakes you do not want to run out of fluid or drain the fluid. To flush without the Ford NGS star tester (bongo bucks) the best way is to bleed the system into a container at each wheel while continually checking/adding new dot 3 fluid. do this until the fluid coming out is clean or you think it has all been replaced. If you did run out of fluid and the abs controller has air in it you will need to take it to a shop that has the NGS or an abs sequencer. Some of the reasons for spongy brakes are: Air in the system, leaks in the master cylinder, softened brake hoses, moisture in the fluid and power rake booster defects.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
First, why did you bleed the brakes? Because you repaired/replaced parts? Because it started feeling spongy(mushy)? With abs brakes you do not want to run out of fluid or drain the fluid. To flush without the Ford NGS star tester (bongo bucks) the best way is to bleed the system into a container at each wheel while continually checking/adding new dot 3 fluid. do this until the fluid coming out is clean or you think it has all been replaced. If you did run out of fluid and the abs controller has air in it you will need to take it to a shop that has the NGS or an abs sequencer. Some of the reasons for spongy brakes are: Air in the system, leaks in the master cylinder, softened brake hoses, moisture in the fluid and power rake booster defects.

Some months ago I had a local shop work on the brakes and since then they were very mushy. Since I don't trust almost any shop I figured I'd try to bleed them myself. I got one of those one-man valve tools and it seems to be easy enough to do, tho I think I may have missed one or two steps. I'll try again tomorrow.

Just incase I have to bring it to a real brake place, how much does a bleed cost?
 

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Probably about an hours labor plus misc. charge. I like to run a hose from the bleeder valve into a pint jar with the hose end under the fluid level. That way the chance of sucking air back into the caliper is minimal. Then I pump the pedal and hold it down with an adjustable support and go bleed a wheel. I'm too old to do that now. It's better to grab an unsuspecting volunteer and teach them how to pump and hold. If you need to take it to a shop, call around first and make sure they can bleed the abs module.
 

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NOTE: Adding to the excellent advice above; brake fluid is hydroscopic (or hygroscopic depending on what organic chemistry book you read).. That simply means that it absorbs moisture. It only takes 4% moisture to render brake fluid useless. ALWAYS use fresh brake fluid. If your brake fluid has been opened and has been sitting on a shelf for 6 months or more throw it away. Buy fresh fluid and use what you buy. There are several brands that make "LMA", that is low moisture activity fluid, e.g. Castrol GT LMA, ATE and Valvoline also make an LMA fluid. These LMA brake fluid are oftem DOT 4 fluid, that is they are higher heat range fluids than DOT 3 fluid. Stay away from DOT 5 fluids (silicone) unless that is what your brake system was specifically designed for. Lastly, bleed the brakes in the proper sequence which is left rear, right front, right rear, left front, for most Ford products (if not all) for about 30 years now. The duel safety master cylinder is split one rear brake and one opposite front brake per each section of the master cylinder. As stated above if the master cylinder is pumped dry you will pump air into the ABS and then the ABS has to be "cycled", that is electronically set into the proper position internally, in order to be bled.
Bleeding the brake cylinders and lines generally takes two people unless you own some fancy (expensive) equipment. One person puts pressure on the brake pedal while the other opens the bleeder. The pedel should go to the floor and be held there until the bleeder is closed so that no air is sucked back into the system. Do this in the proper sequence with fresh fluid until the system is flushed with fresh fluid and the pedel is firm. Cheers
 

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NOTE: Lastly, bleed the brakes in the proper sequence which is left rear, right front, right rear, left front, for most Ford products (if not all) for about 30 years now. The duel safety master cylinder is split one rear brake and one opposite front brake per each section of the master cylinder.

HUH? older brake systems have only one brake line going the rears with a "T" split to the right & left.
I was under the impression that the bleeding procedure is
LR, RR, LF, RF

I recall GM having a brake system like the one you described but was short lived...."X" body from the 80's IIRC.
 

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What do you guys think about these reverse bleeders? They pump fluid into the bleed screw. The system I have seen is made by Phoenix.
 

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Cuda, the older duel safty brake master cylinder system was split front and rear, and yes, the bleeding sequence was to go from the farthest wheel cylinder or caliper from the master cylinder to the closest, i.e. RR,LR, RF, LF. At about the late 1980s the system splits the pressure and sends it to one rear brake and the opposite front brake. This minimizes the chances of spinning the car in a brake failure. With the old system if you locked up the rear brakes you could easily spin out and cross the center line. ABS is simply a system to pump the brakes and not lock them up, which also helps to stop in shorter distances and NOT spin out the car. IMHO this is just another step in the dumbing down of the drivers license requirements.
 

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Sorry about the pre-mature question. I did find the Brake Bleeding thread. Is the reverse bleed system harmful to all ABS systems. It seems like a good idea but if your doing damage to the system......?
 

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I have heard fluid should only flow one way through an ABS system.

The only bleeders I trust are the ones that suck fluid out of the bleeder screw and the ones that push it from the master cylinder out the bleeder screws.

Pushing it back up to the master cylinder is old school. Brake systems need to be flushed more now days so when you bleed you may as well flush the system.
 

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What do you guys think about these reverse bleeders? They pump fluid into the bleed screw.
I'm with Mark V. I do it the old fashion way.

I never could get a suction pump or check valve ("one man bleeder") to work, so I just have the wife pump the brakes and I open the bleeder. Refill the master often.
 

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I'm with Mark V. I do it the old fashion way.

I never could get a suction pump or check valve ("one man bleeder") to work, so I just have the wife pump the brakes and I open the bleeder. Refill the master often.

Ditto on that !!
 

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The vacuum pump is easy as pie to work.

#1. attach bleeder hose to bleeder screw.
#2. pump up vacuum bleeder to get 10 of vacuum.
#3. open bleeder screw and watch the fluid flow.
#4. tighten bleeder when clear fluid appears.
#5. refill master cylinder and repeat step 1-5 on the other 3 wheels.
 

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Then you use a smaller hose, that is what I did.

Bleeding brakes the old fashiond way can damage master cylinders by pushing the internal piston and o-rings past the normal wear in the cylinder and cutting the 0-rings on small ridges formed in the master cylinder cylinder, seen it happen many times after people bleeding brakes the old fashioned way.
 

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Thanks for the information Mark V. I am sold on a vacuum bleeder. I was also getting the wife to help and wanted something I could do myself but the last thing I want is something that damages the system I'm trying to maintain. Any buying tips on some of the vacuum bleeders or ones to stay away from.
 

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Mighty-vac seems to be the best one I have seen local. I bought a cheap one (generic brand) and the vacuum reservoir cracked, I now use an old pickle jar as the reservoir.

To use a smaller hose just heat the end of the hose in hot water, this will make it more pliable to fit over the bigger connection tighter.

What I also like about vacuum bleeders is that you can also use them to test vacuum motors on your car to see if they are working properly. The EGR valve and some of the things on your climate controls use vacuum to work, the vacuum bleeder can test these too.

I have a cheap version of this tool. Mityvac Brake Bleeding Kit | Brake Repair | Northern Tool + Equipment
 
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